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Brunch is a great word because it’s simply breakfast & lunch put together. That’s 2 meals in one, which also means double the time it takes to consume one meal. What could be better than that? When it comes to brunch, there’s no hurry to get it over and done with so it’s great for catching up with your friends or just spending quality time with your other half.
My purpose of this visit was to catch up with a friend and to try out the crab cakes my brother raved about after his visit which I’m appalled by! I still don’t understand how my brother could have known about this place before I did, but, I digress.
We met up at Somerset and travelled down by bus service 111 which was about a 15min ride away and a 5min walk to the café. Located at Phoenix Park, amongst greenery, the ambience for Spruce was relaxed and cheery for there were many expats sipping on champagne while enjoying their meals and playing with their toddlers. Unfortunately, we did not make a reservation beforehand and had to wait for about 25mins. When it was our turn, we were led indoors to the air-conditioned dining area which was good for us because my friend was expecting and although it wasn't boiling outside, it would’ve been warm for her.
I got the Crab Cakes Benny ($26 – 2 Crab Cakes, 2 Poached Eggs on muffins, Bacon, Rocket Leaves & Hollandaise sauce) while my friend settled on The Big Brekkie (Bratwurst, egg of your choice, grilled tomotos, sautéed mushrooms, grilled potatoes, bacon, toasted bread, basically the works) without any alcohol ($18) & we both had the Spruce Lemonade with Mint ($6). Upon closer inspection of the menu, there were sides we could order as well and one of the options was Macaroni & Cheese ($9) which neither one of us could say no to. My personal reason was that I had one of the best Mac & Cheese, complete with bread crumbs, at a diner during my recent trip to LA & have been craving for a similar one since. Seeing how the crowd was and judging by our waiting time, I was expecting the food to take a while to get to us as well but boy were we in for a surprise! Everything we ordered came in no less than 10mins by a very jovial server! After taking a few shots, we dug in and it was silence for a good few moments. The crab cakes were delightful and were made from real crab meat! I’m a big fan of Arugula salad so the leaves on my plate were very welcomed and was great in complementing the variety on the plate, taste wise. My friend herself was singing praises of her meal so needless to say, we were both satisfied with our orders. On to the Mac & Cheese – it came with toasted bread crumbs (score!) but personally, I felt that it could do with less cream sauce in it but that’s not enough to stop me from devouring half the plate though!
A wait staff came around to introduce and offer us the special desserts which were namely a Fruit Salad, Tiramisu and a Panna Cotta ($8). What was amusing about this experience was that this particular staff seemed to either nervous or flustered because he got the name of the Panna Cotta wrong and informed us that it was a Pina Colada which would be an alcoholic drink. Knowing our drinks & desserts, we were a little bit concerned for my friend couldn’t consume any alcohol. We got the staff to check on that which he gladly obliged and informed us that none of the desserts had alcohol in them which may have been false because Tiramisu would have coffee liqueur in it. However, that also confirmed that the 3rd dessert was in fact a Panna Cotta which we opted for, and like everything else, was satisfying. Not faulting the wait staff though, we found the situation to be leaning towards “cute” rather than “annoying” and it’s also one of those days you’re glad you follow the MasterChef series religiously.
My friend got a few pastries to takeaway and gave me a slice of the Double Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Cake ($12 ) which, from what I counted, was 5 layers tall but who’s complaining? The more the merrier! Chocolate rules! I’ve yet to get a taste of that though so I can’t comment but judging from the meal I had, I won’t be expecting anything less!
If you’re a sucker for brunch away from the Orchard Road crowd, Spruce is the place for you. It’s convenient enough to get to by public transportation, serves you great food, has happy cheery service staff and if you’re looking to work up an appetite before your meal, ditch the car and do that short, steep hike up the slope to get there! Your thighs will thank you later and I'm not gonna tell you about actual pathway that gets you there as well just fine. ;)
Not as wow as expected...
Ventured here again afer dropping by on the 3rd day of CNY only to see that its not opened. At 6pm on a Saturday evening, the outdoor seats were all reserved, so we settled for the indoor. The seats by the sides were probably a better choice as the middle seat we got was right smack in front of the cake counter and doorway to the washroom.
Rotisserie chicken - this came in the form of 2 chicken drumsticks perched on top on a pool of mashed potatos and something else I cant' remember. The chicken looked quite good at first but we later realised the it was not probably not season enough as once we took off the skin, the meat itself was quite tasteless. The potatos were not wow either. Plus the order came about 10mins after they took our order, which leads me to conclude the chicken was pre-cooked. And so it was even more strange that the inner bits of the chicken was still red.
Squid salad - small squid rings that came tossed with a bunch of rocket leaves and seasoned with a lemony-dressing, and accompanied by silvers of cooked capsicums. The squid felt a tad too 'soft', and while the dressing was a nice change from your usual creamy fare, I would have preferred the capsicums to not be so cooked and retained more crunch.
I have to admit the ambience is really quite nice, sort of like a semi private lush dining. I walked from Tanglin Mall to get there and it was a good 15mins walk, but still better to have your own transport, evident in how we were stuck when leaving because it was raining. The staff offered to call for a taxi for us which I thought was a nice touch even though we didnt take up the offer.
The rest of the menu looks interesting enough for me to be back; maybe I just ordered the wrong things??
Spruce is about simplicity and quality of raw products – or at least that’s what it strive to achieve from their food offerings.
Helmed by owner Chef Travis Masiero, who is an American, his cuisine is said to pay homage to his humble American roots, influenced by the smell of Mediterranean, North Africa and continental Europe.
Stepped past the entrance and one would be greeted by the casual yet sophisticated ambience in the heart of Orchard Road (Tanglin Road, Phoenix Park to be exact).
While Spruce is opened 7 days a week from morning till night, HFB was there for dinner. We were ushered to the private dining area which sits approximately 10 to 12 pax – nicely suited for business lunches or dinner.
While waiting for the others, we ordered the Hand Cut Chips with Sage ($5.00) to fill our growling tummies.
Thick and crisply fried, it was straightforward comfort food. Simply addictive! We also had another side of Creamy Macaroni and Cheese ($7.00), which HFB thought while aesthetically boring, it was decent enough.
Interestingly enough, their menu has a section titled “To share or not” – which offers simple solid dishes to go around. Order was made for 3 of them including – Three Dips with Assorted Toast and Crisp ($16.00), Warm Spruce Olives with Fennel, Thyme and Orange Rind ($12.00) along with Ahi Tuna Tartar with Toasted Ciabatta and Avocado ($21.00).
HFB is not a fan of olive, thus wasn’t able to comment on it, but the dips and the tuna tartar is a must order if you have a table big enough to share! The dips were packed with awesome flavours and goes really well with the toast and the tuna tartar was really good – very fresh and goes well on its own or with the bread, but best when one tried it with the avocado. HFB did and it was divine!
For the main, HFB opted for the Prawn Pasta with Zucchini and Parmigiano Cheese ($22.00), and all excitement looking forward to sample the dish was gone the moment it was served up. It was probably his fault that he didn’t enquire beforehand, but he certainly wasn’t expecting a bowl of orecchetti pasta served up in a bowl looking like a serving of breakfast cereal with a table spoon. Secondly, He was half anticipating a couple of huge-*** king prawns looking all juicy and ready to be chomped, but alas it wasn’t meant to be – the prawns although plentiful, were halved and thus lacked bite. Gone in a flash (how long does one need to down a bowl of cereal honestly) – HFB wasn’t feeling quite satisfy with his main to be honest (he prefers to “interact” with his food more) and ended up waiting for the rest to finish their mains before we moved on to dessert. What a pity!
Warm Ginger Date Pudding with Chocolate Toffee Sauce ($12.00) was the dessert for the night. With a tint of ginger that doesn’t put many off, the combination with the ice cream was good. And by right coupled it with the sauce should send it up higher by a few notches, but regrettably the toffee sauce was too sweet for consumption.
The sweetness simply overwhelmed the whole dish, and when feedback, Chef Travis mentioned that desserts are meant to be sweet and that’s how they eat it America – anybody care to shed some light into this?
You can view all the photos here.
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